For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Speaking from experience… some tips for Patients:
- Try to relax while taking treatment. A few things that would be helpful to bring to your first treatment are: a book, laptop (for movies), headphones, or you might want to bring someone along. These things were great for me and helped keep my mind off of the drugs. If you are like me, it was hard for them to get an IV in, so drinking plenty of fluids before hand is a good idea, and maybe wrap your arm in a blanket or something to keep your veins warm. I know it sounds funny, but it works.
- Pamper and reward yourself! My sister and mother-in-law did something really great for me. Every day that I had treatment they gave me a little gift. It was something little like a Starbucks card, coffee cup, magazines, etc. But it was so nice to receive a little gift before each treatment.
- You will have a window of time in between treatments when you are feeling somewhat yourself. Make sure that you do something fun for yourself and your family. Plan a day trip, go shopping, spend some alone time with your spouse. These things always helped me remember that this is only for a season.
- Remember, everyone is different, so do not believe everything that you read will happen to you. You are your own person and will respond in your own way. Try your best to prepare, but don’t freak out if things don’t go as planned.
- Let people help you. If you are anything like me, you like to be in control. One of the hardest things for me was to let people help me. Communicate what you need and you will be amazed at the response. Remember that this is hard for them too, they want to help in anyway possible.
- If you are sensitive to smells like I was, ask people to not wear perfumes or colognes around you and definitely spend as little time in the kitchen as possible. Maybe get some nose plugs or something to help keep the smells down to a minimum.
- Eat whatever sounds good or tastes good to you. Your friends can go to www.takethemameal.com and set up meals for you to be delivered when you want them to. They can also put down the food that you prefer and meals you would like to receive.
- Stay ahead of nausea. Don’t wait to feel sick before taking your anti-nausea drugs. This was a big one for me. I don’t like taking medicine because of the side effects. But trust me, those side affects are worth taking your medicine before the nausea hits.
- Write everything down. How you feel, side effects, things you liked, things you did not like. These things are very important to share with your doctor. They can adjust dosages and give you the correct ways to help you avoid having certain side effects.
- When you hair starts to fall out, it may feel like you have a sore head much like a headache. Shaving your head at that time may help. Also it’s the ”losing of your hair” that’s the hardest. Once it really starts to fall out, you may want to just shave it and get it over with.
- This is a ”germ free zone!” Wash your hands often when your white cell count is low. It’s not a bad idea to have all your guests wash their hands as well. I set up stations by the front and garage doors. If you have children going to school, it would be a good idea to have them change their clothes when they get home. Especially during the flu season.
- Talk to others undergoing chemo. It really helps to share information and know that you have the same feelings and symptoms as someone else. A support group is a great resource or contact your local church.
- Create a few areas in your house where you can only be. Designate a chair or somewhere in the room that makes you feel comfortable. I was very restless and could not stay in one place for that long. So I had my bed and a chair that I would rotate from and it was only mine to use in order to keep the germs to a minimum.
- Remember that you are not alone! There are too many people who know what you are going through. This is probably one of the hardest seasons of your life, but it is just that; a season and it will soon will be over.
Peace I leave you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubles neither let it be afraid.
And some tips for Caregivers:
- Keep talking—don’t be afraid to talk about the cancer or chemo process. Be willing to listen to all of the many emotions the patient may have.
- Take care of you—make sure that you are getting the support that you need to. Use a close friend that you can confide in when things get tough.
- Try not to tell them what to do or how to do it. Most of the time the patient will have no idea what to do, but they will want to make the decision on their own. Let them, give them as much control as you can. They need to feel like they are not losing control.
- Fasten your seat belts and enjoy the ride. You will be doing many different tasks. Be flexible and try to keep a positive attitude whenever possible.
- Be ready to speak up and help when the patient is overwhelmed. There will be a lot of information thrown at them, try your best to sift through everything for them.
- Offer to take the patient to their medical appointments. Help the patient come up with questions to ask the doctor and take notes.
- Be prepared for the many different moods of the patient. There will be good days and bad days. Be ready to support them through thick and thin.
- Let the patient be in control! Support, Support, Support. Support them when making a decision, but never make a decision for them. Remember, this is their life, their body, and their future.
- Don’t be different. Make sure that you are being yourself. Re-assure them that your relationship will not change, and you are committed to them 100%.
- The best medicine…verbalize your love and support for them. Be creative, write it, say it, or show it by your actions. The only thing worse than being diagnosed with cancer is watching someone you love go through it. As a caregiver, you will experience many of the same emotions.These tips should not take the place of medical advice but hopefully give you some insight on ways to care for a loved one. Remember you are a huge part of making their journey a success.